Studio Habits of Mind

When I was a classroom teacher I was introduced to Harvard’s Project Zero and Visible Thinking.  The core belief of Visible Thinking is that by making thinking a visible process, students will learn how to use thinking processes routinely to guide their learning and processing.  The more you use a routine, any routine, the more automatic these routines become.  As educators, we can teach students to think by teaching them the routines of thinking.

I went to a NESA conference in which we focused on thinking routines.  It was pretty eye-opening.  Mark Church, the facilitator, didn’t let you get off the hook with simple answers to questions.  He kept probing; he kept asking us to go deeper.  This is the idea of thinking routines.  It’s a workout for your brain!

When I became an art teacher I learned that there are “thinking routines” for the arts. They are called “Studio Habits of Mind.” There are eight dispositions students are taught to help them think like artists.  They are habits, and they can be taught.

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I got this visual from  but there are so many posters out there and resources to choose from when deciding what to focus on in your classroom.

I wanted to focus on these habits of mind as I want my students to become more independent in the art room as part of our transition to a TAB classroom.  I found the perfect way to incorporate the habits in our classroom, at least for right now.

I saw this post on Pinterest. It is from on Instagram.  I am not an Instagram user but I really like using this bulletin board as a way to focus on the skills and the habits of mind.

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I have a teaching assistant for two hours a day, mainly to help with kindergarten.  She is bored a lot of the time because she works for half-day in the aides’ room before she comes to me.  She is always asking me for work.   I showed her this picture and asked her if she could make me a bulletin board like it.  She made one EXACTLY like it.  I didn’t want to copy it from the Instagram post, but this is what I got.  Isn’t copying the ultimate form of flattery?  Apologies in advance to the person who is



This bulletin board is outside of my classroom, simply because all my board space in my room is taken up with TAB center ideas; however, even if the location is less than perfect, it is allowing us to really focus on these habits.

I am primarily working on these habits with my second and third-grade students.  During the course of a project, whether it’s at the beginning, middle or end, we find time to go out in the hall and discuss our thinking, our habits.  Students are really reflecting on their work and these habits are starting to bleed into various project ideas.  Here are some of their reflections.


The person who wrote this looked at books and handouts.  Then he went on YouTube and the concentration level was amazing.


We are having more discussions about our artwork and I believe this is having an overall effect on how students make their creations.  The habits, combined with TAB, are allowing students to take more ownership over their work and the process.







Author: Sonia Chapman

I am an art teacher, living in the Middle East, following my passion for art, teaching little children about the finer things in life, and loving every bit of it.

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